Intro to Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos

When I was interning with the lovely Rebekah Westover, it was always humorous to see how many people wondered why she was shooting into the sun; clients thought that the sun should be on them, not behind them. They would ask, "Won't we all be dark?" The answer is... you will LOVE what is about to happen! Just you wait and see! Rebekah then continued to work her magic to produce stunningly gorgeous images for her happy clients, like these images of hers below.

Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com (photo by Rebekah Westover)
Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com (photo by Rebekah Westover)
How to Shoot Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos - www.mommatography.com (photo by Rebekah Westover)

Have you seen those beautiful, naturally-lit portraits where the light adds a perfect warm glow behind the subject? The secret is to shoot backlit! When your subject has the sun on their faces, its harsh lighting and nobody likes to try and smile with the sun in their eyes. Shooting into the sun, even if it's bright outside, helps avoid this AND can make for stunning results. 

Check out my tips for getting great photos by shooting INTO the sun. 

Here are my 5 tips for shooting backlit!

1. Shoot in manual mode. It's SO tough to get the right exposure (or that dreamy glowing feel) when you're shooting on a subject on auto, with the sun behind them. Your camera will try and calculate for the bright, bright sun and your subject and your image will most likely turn out too dark. 

Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com

2. Spot-meter your subject. This will help you get the best exposure for your subject, not the contrasting values of your scene. You want your subject to be well exposed, and sometimes your background will go overexposed, but it will still be beautiful. For more about spot-metering and metering modes, click here. I also love shooting backlit indoors (shooting into the window light), like the photo below.

Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com

3. Use a lens-hood! When you have all that light coming into your lens, it helps to get more contrast with a lens hood; this can also help you to get just the right sun flares. Sun flare in certain photos can definitely add a great element but for some photos, it can block your subject too much or be overpowering. With a lens hood, even moving an inch can help you get the right look. 

Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com

4. Use a custom white-balance setting. I love cutting down my post-processing steps by shooting in Kelvin. I get to add a warmer temperature in-camera to get the right glow that I want to go for! Shooting on an auto-white balance setting isn't bad, but most of the time my images come out cooler than I'd like them to be. You can also shoot on the daylight setting, which might be warmer than your auto setting. Play around with your white balance settings to see what you like best! Read more about understanding white balance in my article here.

Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com

5. Try and find the perfect lighting, just before the sun sets, and see if you can get rim light to show around your subject. This is where you can see the outline of light around the subject. I love this look!

Tips for Shooting Backlit - 5 Tips for Beautiful Backlit Photos -  www.mommatography.com

Shooting into the light or into the sun is my favorite way to shoot. I love how it creates such a beautiful glow around any subject! Practice shooting this way and I can promise you, you won't want to go back :)